13 Jul Getting Sober: An Interview With Maverick
The rags-to-riches story is pretty common in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Often filled with young and successful alcoholics, AA meetings and the individuals in attendance are a testament to the transformative power of the program. Maverick Nazelrod, a New Life House alumnus with 4 years sober, went from being a homeless heroin addict in the streets of Albuquerque to a self-employed businessman at the age of 24. I spent some time talking with him about getting sober, his life today, and how the amends process played a role in helping him achieve the financial and emotional freedom he currently enjoys.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]My friends suggested that I was different when it came to drinking – where most people would have stopped, the thought didn’t even occur to me.[/su_pullquote]
When was the first time you realized you had a drug problem?
Maverick: Well, both of my parents definitely have drinking and drug problems. My mom, who now has 27 years sober, lovingly refers to herself as the “ex-queen of LSD”. My father has struggled with drug problems most of his life, and to this day, struggles with his addiction to a myriad of substances. So I was set up for success from the gate. (laughs) When I was 11 years old, I would go spend the night at my dad’s house because he was much more lenient, and he had a bottle of gin. I took 11 shots the first time I drank and couldn’t wait to do it again. The next morning though, not just my parents, but my friends, suggested that I was different when it came to drinking – where most people would have stopped, the thought didn’t even occur to me.
How did that drinking pattern lead you to finally getting sober?
Maverick: When I was growing up I quickly found out that there were prerequisites to hang out with different groups of people. To chill with the jocks you had to be good at sports, to be friends with the nerds you had to be good with computers – to kick it with the stoners though, you just had to smoke weed. For me that came naturally, and that mentality of never putting the drink down came in handy. Of course the progression of alcoholism caught up with me and I kept trying new things and using harder drugs. My bottom was wandering around Miami with no friends or family, in a hospital gown from a mental institution, after one more failed geographic and subsequent relapse. I kept trying to do things my way and my best thinking kept failing me. I finally put my hands up in the air and that was how I got to New Life House.
What were your first 30 days sober like?
Maverick: Colors were too bright, noises were too loud, and everyone was a lot cleaner than I was. I thought I had a unique type of alcoholism directly linked to my extreme intelligence – it took me a long time to realize that I was a garden variety alcoholic. So the first 30 days were uncomfortable in a lot of ways, but helped me gain the humility I needed in order to finally change the patterns that kept getting me loaded
If you could give your loaded self some words of advice what would they be?
Maverick: Don’t take out those student loans and spend them on heroin! (laughs) No but seriously, financial debt is a huge part of my story. It was a big motivator for me to be financially successful in my sobriety. I bought in to the idea that in order to experience the freedom from the bondage of self that I heard these people with time sober talking about, I had to make the financial amends and right the harms I had caused while using. So making amends has been a really important part of my sobriety.
What role have those amends played in your sobriety?
Maverick: I got sober owing over thirty thousand dollars and I’ve had the ability to pay a large portion of that back so far. As I have moved forward in my sobriety and gotten better jobs, my capacity to right financial wrongs has also increased. My experience has been that as I pay back the money, my own fear of financial insecurity diminishes. This has also been true in my relationships. I have been in a loving, honest relationship for over 2 years now, but it wasn’t until I went back and made amends to the women that I had harmed that the universe kind of opened up and presented these opportunities to me. My resting state today is contentment – I have a sense of emotional freedom that is mirrored in my outside life as well, and I credit this to the steps and specifically the amends that I have made and continue to make.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]Newly sober, I did not envision this level of success in my life but as a result of having some blind faith, taking suggestions, and putting one foot in front of the other, I can honestly say I have everything that I ever wanted and so, so, much more.[/su_pullquote]
What does your life look like today?
Maverick: Well, like I said, I am in a happy, committed relationship with a woman I’m still in love with two years later. That was definitely not something I ever experienced before getting sober! I learned how to be honest and caring through the steps and also learned how to live with another person by going through New Life. You’d be surprised how helpful it is to know how to clean up after yourself in a relationship! I have an awesome career where I pretty much get to be my own boss. Financially, I’ve become pretty successful as a result of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and striving to be better. I started as a salesperson at Nordstrom, where I found that I had a natural ability for talking with people and building relationships. Using the principles taught to me at New Life recovery community I was quickly honored to receive awards of salesmanship. I continued to grow with that company for two more years, ending with management training and the title of Personal Stylist. As I honed the ability to be an honest and persistent salesman I was gifted with the opportunity to become an independent contractor. I now am self-employed in the freight-forwarding industry wherein the ceiling is monetarily limitless. I have found my self in a position where I am able to make my own hours and live comfortably simultaneously. Newly sober, I did not envision this level of success in my life but as a result of having some blind faith, taking suggestions, and putting one foot in front of the other, I can honestly say I have everything that I ever wanted and so, so, much more.
Thanks for taking the time to share your story, Maverick!